Patna: Authorities in Bihar in a novel experiment have engaged sweepers to collect outstanding municipal taxes from defaulters.
The sweepers and other cleaning staff accompanying the tax collectors are knocking on the doors of defaulters and asking them to pay the outstanding taxes immediately — saying failure to do so will force them to stage sit-ins in front of their houses. The cleaning staff have received formal training in to deal with residents.
"Sir, we will go to bed with an empty belly if you don't clear the taxes… we are not being paid regularly because you don't pay taxes on time," is how they ask the defaulters to pay. The obvious social embarrassment caused in this process is forcing defaulters to clear their dues instantly.
Officials say fear of the sweepers sitting with brooms outside their house and resorting to slogan-shouting is forcing residents to clear their dues as soon as possible.
The involvement of the cleaners has forced some big defaulters, such as two reputed sweet shops, to clear their dues instantly, let aside ordinary residents who are only too quick to pay up.
"The idea has totally clicked as our tax collection has increased three-fold in the last fortnight. Our average per day tax collection earlier was around Rs350,000 [Dh24,307] which has now gone up to a whopping Rs1.2 million a day," Patna's municipal commissioner Pankaj Kumar Pal told Gulf News yesterday.
Authorities said the failure of residents to pay taxes on time had compelled them to adopt this idea.
Previously, the state government had employed eunuchs for the same purposes, which also met with huge success.